Cloud computing, as we know from the various marketing and technical information in our industry, has many manifestations. It is frequently used to make IT managers think twice about strategic direction, it often presents an unwanted guest in the form of a business initiated effort, and it is largely ignored as a technology option when it comes to solving daily problems of capacity and technology support requirements.
In fact, the number one reason that cloud computing is ignored is that the perceived risks far outweigh the amount of time and effort that it takes for the average systems manager to spend making sense of it. We often tend to like the concepts but not the dramatic shift in our day-to-day that is necessary to execute. So, we tend to thank our vendors, technology partners and solution providers for the “valuable information” and move on to the real issues of managing infrastructure, storage capacity, application deployment, unyielding project managers and the daily function of trying to keep it all running so that we can have a balanced, normal life.
These concerns for risk and time, coupled with the lack of immediate demands, keep us from moving forward with a strategic plan to integrate with an off-premise cloud solution. We stick with what we know because, quite frankly, no one else is really doing it or telling us that we must do it, except for marketing and sales people.
This leads to the first real reason to actually initiate a cloud strategy – Potential Competitive Advantage – it is likely that no one else in your market is doing it, and that is an opportunity for a differentiator.
The other four reasons for moving to a cloud platform deal directly with risk;
- vendor risk
- security risk
- the risk of loss in effectiveness
- loss in control or efficiency
Who, as a technologist or as a technology manager, has the time to learn or manage these risk aspects? The answer is actually quite simple – your cloud vendor partner. Unless your partner can demonstrate a track record and provide technologically-sound answers to mitigating these four risks, you are likely wasting your time.
The ability of your cloud provider to mitigate these four risk areas can be boiled down to two things: Process and Methodology.
That’s right. Your cloud vendor partner’s company size, market presence or types/ industries of client focus are irrelevant in helping you mitigate these risks. Certainly, capacity is also a potential risk, but quite frankly, any cloud vendor is willing to increase capacity. The question becomes “how well can your workloads be managed without excessive involvement of your staff and additional headaches on top of all of the others.”
This question is only a matter of adhering to security standards and regulations with regards to solution design, service management and project management. Your cloud vendor must be able to provide evidence demonstrating their ability to execute, leaving the only real risk as those of training your staff and users to leverage the cloud platform correctly and ensure that the economic benefits outweigh the costs.
As countless studies have shown, there is no doubt that moving workloads to a cloud environment saves time, effort and money, especially in the replacement of compute and storage for either highly static or highly volatile workloads. Also, many cloud providers can provide failover and geographical dispersion in support of a disaster recovery plan in a fraction of the time that most firms could hope to accomplish on their own. Cloud technologies offer a considerable advantage in allowing for real transformation and proper capacity planning, management and smoothing of operations costs. Cloud technologies also permit a high degree of accessibility and agility.
Moving to the cloud is a function of vendor selection, organizational transformation and workload selection. Pick the right vendor and many of the objections that you and your business have can be satisfied, which can render a competitive advantage that translates into real earnings and balance for your work and life.
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